Good Food + Wine, Good Friends = GOOD TIMES

Some say that entertaining is an art.  Some of us love it and some of us do not.  I for one DO!!!  It makes me very happy when I can bring the people I love together and share in some good times, good food, oh, and good wine. Don’t get me wrong, I am no Martha Stewart, but I do love being creative and adding some extra special touches to events that are unique and memorable. I never quite know where I can draw some inspiration from but when it comes to me, I roll with it.

So my boyfriend owns a pub.  And often times the wine and liquor reps will bring us new things to try out (definitely one of the best perks of the job!).  A few months ago we wanted to bring in some new red wines so our rep gave us about several different bottles to try; different varieties within different price ranges.  Hmmmmm… this is definitely no fun to try alone (my honey does not care much for wine, much to my dismay) so a light bulb went off.   I decided to turn our wine bounty into an interactive gathering with a twist!  You see, I think that the label on the wine bottle, the price of it and the knowledge of what type of wine it is, will immediately influence our opinions of the wine before it even touches our lips. “Well its a $40 bottle so it must be good,” and “oh, that pretty little bird on the label is beautiful so I think I will like this wine etc…” you know where I am going with this.  So my idea: A blind wine tasting!  My sister and I organized the gathering at her home and invited a bunch of friends.  I cut brown paper bag pieces and covered the labels of each wine and numbered them accordingly.

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I researched each of the wines and had notes on each (this definitely added to the experience and I loved playing the role of a wanna be sommelier) but I never revealed the price or the winemaker when discussing.  For example:  “wine #1 is a medium body wine with hints of blackberry and cherry that pairs well with”……and then everyone would discuss the wine and takes notes on each. I also had them rate the wine on a scale of 1-10.  We took our time and really had fun with it.

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At the end, I revealed each of the bottles and prices and we went through what they thought of each one.  Very interesting results…the most expensive was a favorite but so was the least!  And the funny thing was that the least expensive wine was seriously the ugliest bottle and to me looked very, very cheap and unappealing.  I would have never bought it off the shelf.  Goes to show, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Anyhow, I hope you like my idea and perhaps it inspires you to have a little fun with your friends as well.  Its not quite a Sonoma or Napa wine tasting but if you enjoy tasting different wines it is certainly an experience you and your friends will enjoy and appreciate. Hey, any wine tasting I’ve been to, no matter where, I have always had a fantastic time! Infact, at the end of this one we had quite a few people dancing!  This makes me happy.  For any of you hosting New Years, this could be an idea for you?

I have included one of my favorite party goat cheese appetizer recipes here that is always a hit and pairs well with most any wine and a little plug for my little friend “the vinturi”…enjoy and CHEERS!

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Baked Goat Cheese with Caramelized Onion, Garlic and Mission Figs

Recipe courtesy Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh @ food network

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds goat cheese
  • 14 dried Mission figs (1 cup), sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
  • 10 garlic cloves crushed
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sliced baguettes, for dipping

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Crumble the goat cheese into an oven safe dish and set aside.

In a sauce pot combine the figs and sherry with enough water to barely cover the figs. Place the sauce pot over high heat and bring up to a bubble, cover and remove from the heat and let the figs plump while the onions are cooking.

Pour the olive into a large skillet and place over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon remove the plumped figs from the sauce pot, leaving behind any of the pluming liquid. Add the figs to the cooked onions, stir to combine and then spoon over the goat cheese. Place the dish into the top half of the oven for 20 minutes, until the edges begin to bubble.

Remove and serve immediately with sliced baguettes.

*** Ahhh the Vinturi!

I love this gadget- my mini wine aerator.   You pour your wine through it and it properly aerates the wine allowing for the flavors to develop quicker and provides smoother finish.  I swear you can taste the difference.  I try it out on friends all of the time.  I pour one glass regularly and another through Mr. Vinturi and the difference in taste is apparent.  I bought mine at Bed Bath and Beyond.  Great gift for wine lovers!

Funny story- we were at a fine dining restaurant about a year ago and I asked the sommelier what he thought of the vinturi or tools like it and here was his response : “ I won’t let anything but fine crystal touch my wine”.  Geeez! (I thought to myself).  So he basically poo poo-ed it,  but since most of us don’t have hours to decant our wine, this little guy is alright in my book!

http://vinturi.com/

vinturi

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